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Old Girl and former Perth College Art Captain, Melissa Clements, is busy preparing to launch her biggest art exhibition yet, We Prepare a Face.

The display will open at West Perth's Cleaver Street and Co Studio on 13 December and run until 18 December.

The opening night event will include food, wine and music entertainment by 2015 PC Leaver, Jessica Negus, better known as DJ Mintox.

Melissa said the exhibition, which she has been working on since August, was inspired by a line of poetry by T.S. Eliot.

She added that it would be a celebration, not only of the work itself, but of the stories behind each painting.

“Eliot had a poem called The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which I actually studied in Year 12 at PC, and it was, and still is, one of my favourite poems,” she said.

“He talked about modernism and the experience of a human being in modern life in western society, and he speaks about how there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

“[The exhibition] is all about how human beings, especially in modern life, put on a face. They put on a mask and they are also meeting other masks and other faces but, beneath the veil, there is something much deeper going on that we don’t really share with each other.

“All of the paintings are going to be portraits, and it’s about pulling back that veil and capturing a moment of vulnerability."

Since graduating Perth College in 2016, Melissa has been busy immersing herself in the art world with her own exhibitions and plenty of overseas experiences.

“Everyone knew me as the arty girl in high school,” Melissa laughed.

“After I graduated, I went on to do a Bachelor of Philosophy majoring in Art History and Philosophy.

“Philosophy was quite tricky – there is so much thinking and I came out of it realising how little I knew about philosophy. Art History was great, and I loved that, so that’s what I’ll be doing my Honours in next year.”

Along the way, she has also taken advantage of some incredible art opportunities, including studying abroad in New York.

“It was a summer school course at the New York Academy of Arts, and it counted towards a couple of units of my UWA degree,” Melissa said.

“It was awesome – we spent Mondays painting, Tuesdays doing sculpture, Wednesdays learning about art history, Thursdays doing life drawing and visiting galleries on Fridays and we did that every day for a month.

“Plus, we had studio space in New York, and we were encouraged to make our own art and there was a big exhibition at the end.

“I also went to the National Arts School in Sydney at the start of this year.”

  • Some of the portraits in We Prepare A Face
  • Some of the portraits in We Prepare A Face
  • Some of the portraits in We Prepare A Face
  • Some of the portraits in We Prepare A Face

Melissa has recently turned her focus to creating an exhibition of her own after successfully securing Department of Local Government, Sport and Culture art funding.

“I looked into the Under $15,000 Arts Grant which is geared towards individuals, and I applied for the Creative Development category,” Melissa said.

“I had a little exhibition last year showcasing the work I had been doing but I was studying full-time, so I didn’t really have the time to make it a proper exhibit. That was a good experience and learning curve."

Melissa said she always imagined she would pursue a career in the art industry, but never knew quite what path she would take.

“I saw myself working in a museum as a curator or... working as an academic,” she said.

“But now that I’m working as an artist, I feel like that’s more my calling.

“It’s not until you graduate and start meeting and mingling with creative people in the industry that you realise how many opportunities there are as well."

And her advice for current or future Year 12 students about to take the next step in their journey after high school – take your time.

“There’s no timeline, there’s no rush,” she said.

“I think it’s so important to treat life as a dance, rather than a race.

“There will always be people out there that are going to be better than you, but if you have the drive and work really hard, you can manifest anything.”

For more information about the We Prepare A Face exhibition, or to buy a ticket to the opening night, visit the Facebook event or eventbrite.